It was a crisp, sunny day, on an early fall morning, when we biked the hilly backroads in the Berkshires. We pedaled past corn fields and rolling hills of fresh cut hay, occasionally passing tractors and sharing the road with runaway chickens. There were stone walls, woods, and tucked-away homes with names like Corey Acres and Tofu’s Retreat. A turn here, a turn there, and we arrived in the pretty little town of West Stockbridge.
We were on a self-guided Farm to Fork Fitness Adventures tour, offered by the nonprofit Wrenegade Sports company, founded by Tyler Wren, a retired professional cyclist.
“The mission from the beginning has been to connect the cycling and farming communities and to educate and motivate the cycling community to support their local farmers,” says Wren. “Cyclists love to seek out quiet country roads to ride on, so I believe we have a responsibility to support the landowners who maintain that open space.”
The self-guided tours include three route options, to accommodate all levels of experience. There’s a 20.9-mile route, a 37.5-mile route, and a 56.7-mile route. Each begin and end at the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, following similar routes to farms, orchards, and small villages. The DIY tour includes three farm experiences and a picnic lunch, supplied by a local restaurant or café along the way. The company also offers one-day small group guided tours in the Berkshires, and DIY and guided tours in other locations, including Champlain Islands, Pennsylvania Dutch region, Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, Shenandoah (Virginia), Connecticut’s Quiet Corner and New Gloucester, Maine.
Here’s how it works: register for the tour online, and you’ll receive information on the routes and participating farms. Once you select your route and the farms you’d like to experience, you’ll get a packet in the mail with tokens to redeem, and other fun stuff (a Farm to Fork face covering, hand sanitizer infused with local oils, and tickets to a digital raffle with more than $5,000 in prizes.)
We opted for their most popular tour in the Berkshires, the 37.5-mile loop, and built in enough time for a visit to the Hancock Shaker Village. The historic site sprawls over 750 acres, and 20 authentic Shaker buildings, an impressive collection of furniture and artifacts, plus fields with grazing livestock, herb and vegetable gardens and a five-acre working farm, utilizing the Shakers' sustainable, regenerative farming methods. We took a private tour of the living history museum and walked the mile-long Farm and Forest Trail through the woods behind the Round Stone Barn. And then, we hit the road.
The route follows up-and-down, sometimes squiggly-wiggly backroads, along with busier two-lane byways. Our first stop was the small, help-yourself Three Maples Market Farm Stand, with boxes and baskets filled with fall produce, and an honor box for payment. A perfect fall photo opportunity!
Back on the bikes, we made a few wrong turns before arriving in the unspoiled rural town of Alford, with a church, town hall and historic one-room schoolhouse. Later we learned that the town boasts that it has “no stores, no motels or hotels, and not a single gas station.”
From there we pedaled into West Stockbridge, parked the bikes, and walked to the No. 6 Depot Café, a popular coffee shop, café and gallery, and an included stop on our route. The café offers hand-roasted coffee, specialty teas, pastries and sandwiches. We enjoyed croissants and smoothies before walking around the picturesque town, browsing the Hotchkiss Mobiles Gallery and Studio. We also visited the Turn Park Art Space, with paths and outdoor sculptures.
The longest route would have taken us further south of Alford, past Taft Farms, and through the towns of Housatonic and Stockbridge. It also includes a visit to the family-owned — and very picturesque — High Lawn Farm, with their Farmstead Creamery, selling slow-churned butters, ice cream, and artisanal cheeses.
Instead we pedaled the shorter route to Bartlett’s Apple Orchards and Farm Market. This rolling 24-acre apple farm has been in the Bartlett family for four generations, growing and selling apples for more than 70 years. It was packed! The parking lot was full, and cars were lined up and down the street. No wonder: it was a perfect day for apple picking, and for roaming the beautiful farmland.
Our last stop was Balderdash Cellars, a boutique winery in Richmond, with a gorgeous setting overlooking Richmond Pond and distant mountains. There was dining under a large tent, with food supplied by local purveyors Biggins Higgins. There’s also a large, lofty lawn space, where folks spread their own blankets or tables and chairs, enjoying the view, glasses of wine or pints of local craft beers. After nearly 40 miles on the bike, we were ready for food and libations. We ordered sandwiches and salads, and glasses of the boutique’s Fruit of the Boot rose. A perfect ending to a fine fall day.
Farm to Fork Fitness Adventures, 844-973-6342, www.farmtoforkfitness.com; $69.99 for self-guided tours. For more Berkshires coverage, check out this Sunday’s Globe Travel section.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com